Regina City Hall is undergoing millions of dollars worth of renovations in 2017, part of the city’s spending plans some might not have seen.
Mayor Michael Fougere confirmed that work will cost the city around $4 million.
“We have some sewer lines and ventilation systems that don’t meet code. The sewer lines are actually going to be collapsing so we need to fix that right away,” he explained.
He said that work was needed and was the main driver of the construction. Since that infrastructure upgrade was already taking place, Fougere continued, they decided to do additional work, which includes moving the building and development permit staff down to the main floor.
It also includes a new cafeteria.
Fougere described the added enhancements as efficiencies aimed at providing better service to the estimated 9,000 people who come into city hall, especially those who are forced to take the elevator up to higher floors.
He said the money was initially approved in the 2014 budget but was deferred for several years. When asked why construction was going ahead in the fiscally tight budget year of 2017, Fougere responded the work was approved before the provincial budget and before they knew they’d have to find $10.3 million.
“Tenders that went out were prior to the cuts to the grants in lieu so we didn’t feel there was any particular pressure point on the city because we didn’t know of or were aware of the cuts to the grants in lieu.”
To make up a funding shortfall, the city had to recently reopen its previously approved budget and raise taxes another 2.5 per cent. Additionally, some programs were cut.
The mayor said it was too late to stop the work that was recently approved.
“We’ve actually put the tender out so I think we’re past that point of making that change,” said Fougere.
He said this latest round of renovations is the third phase of a 10-year development plan. A few years ago council chambers were refurbished. Recently, the customer service area to the right-hand side of the main entrance to city hall was worked on and completed.
Fougere said the latest work on city hall – to the left-hand side of the entrance – would begin “shortly” and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.